As I sit down to write this piece my birthday is only a few hours away. And a week later we’ll all be ringing in the New Year. The beginning of a new decade. This is usually the time I spend setting resolutions for the New Year. Resolutions, to be totally honest, I usually end up breaking before the month of January has ended.
But not this year. I’ve decided not to make resolutions for 2020. Instead, I started making lifestyle changes months ago. Changes that will carry over to 2020 and beyond. I have spent most of my time reviewing not only this past year but my life this past decade. Things that have worked for me; what have not and what do I need to do to make this new decade bigger and better.
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t happy to see this decade end. It has kicked my butt thoroughly. I started the decade still mourning the loss of my grandparents and my sister. And during the decade I lost my aunt who helped raise me and my husband who always made me feel well loved. Without those steady people in my life I spent most of the decade feeling abandoned, alone and unloved. (Not that I was alone and unloved, but that’s how I felt at times.) I did, however, gain two wonderful daughters-in-law and two amazing grandchildren who are the light of my life.
But in general, I spent most of this past decade in a state of sadness and in a pit of darkness. A pit so deep and dark I thought I’d never come out. And for a while that’s where I wanted to stay. In the beginning I stayed in my self-absorbed cave fueled by wine and food. As time went on I would get out but kept going back and forth; in and out of the darkness. In and out of the cave. I even entered unhealthy relationships and found myself in dangerous situations. I knew I couldn’t continue going down this dark path. It was time to make a change.
So this past year I found myself on a journey. A journey of self-discovery. I was “forced” to take a deep dive into who I was and what made me tick. I looked at why I kept going in and out of the darkness. What was I trying to avoid? Yes, there was grief. A lot of it. But it went beyond the grief. In addition to feeling abandoned, unloved and alone, I also felt unworthy, out of control and in general, broken into a million pieces. Why? Yes, there were reasons. Yes, there were people and circumstances I could have blamed. But that was too easy. I had to take responsibility for my actions. I had to find a way to get out of the darkness permanently. I spent a lot of time in prayer, self-reflection and meditation. Eventually I even got professional help. There I was made to look at a mirror (so to speak) and see who this person was looking back at me. The good and the bad. The dark and the light.
What was I hiding from? What triggered me to feel so horrible about myself that I continuously set myself up to fail? What positive action could I make when I was triggered? And what could I do to prevent being triggered all together? I have learned and am still learning the answers to these questions and much more.
This past year I have learned many things like what do I REALLY want in life? I am learning that I don’t always have to have myself, others and circumstances under complete control. I am learning that being alone does not equal loneliness. I am learning that I am worthy to be loved. And I don’t have to look to others to find my worthiness or fill the void with unhealthy circumstances. I have learned to forgive those who have hurt me or disappointed me. I am learning that even though I forgive them, I don’t have to have them in my life. I can still love them from a distance. I am learning not to feel guilty from decisions I have made (and are making). I have learned that in this stage of my life it’s OK to put myself first. I am learning that not everyone will like or care what I have to say or how I say it but I have the right to say it anyway. I am learning that those who do not like me have their own issues that have nothing to do with me. I am learning that I can’t save everyone. I am learning what positive things make me feel good and to avoid what doesn’t, like toxic relationships. I am learning to depend on myself more rather than lean on others who have busy lives of their own. I am learning how to say “no”. I am learning that not every smiling face is a friend and that I need to trust my intuition more often. I am learning that it is not too late to reinvent myself. And that I have the ability to create my own future with the power of my words, my thoughts and my own actions.
Through this journey I have changed and am still changing. I am not the same person I was a decade ago or even a year ago. Every day I am becoming the person I have always wanted to be. But more importantly I am leaving myself open to become all that my Creator has planned for me. I am looking forward to this next decade. I am looking forward to continuing to get to know me and experience the new adventures that await.
As you think about your New Year’s resolutions maybe getting to know yourself better should be at the top of your list. Get to know the real you. It doesn’t matter how young or how old you are; or how good or difficult this past decade has been for you. Even if you find yourself in a dark place while reading this piece reach for the light. And remember sometimes it’s easier to see even a speck of light when surrounded by darkness.
So Happy New Year to you. May this decade be filled with growth, self-love, self-discovery and wonderful surprises for us all. And in the meantime, let’s do what we can to make this decade our best decade ever.